Quercus virginiana
southern live oak

Fagaceae (beech family)
Southeastern United States
Trio of Quercus virginiana, campus’ oldest, northeast of Frost Amphitheater. Sairus Patel, 14 Oct 2018
Quercus virginiana branchlet, northeast of Frost Amphitheater. Note rounded tips and pale undersides of leaves. Sairus Patel, 14 Oct 2018

For decades there were only three of these attractive trees on campus, though they are well known on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where they are known simply as live oaks. The appearance of the acorns in the fall is truly quaint, by local standards, since they are relatively tiny and hang in pairs on stalks over an inch long. The leaves are unusual too, having no lobes or prickles, being slightly rolled under at the edges, glossy dark green on top and pale underneath, and as little as 2 inches long. The tips are rounded, though they may look pointed on casual examination.

The older trees are just east of Frost Amphitheater’s northeast entrance, not far from Arrillaga Alumni Center. There are now 30 young ones at the Ford Center: several on Arguello Way and the rest along the north wall and in and around the circular lawn of Ford Plaza. Three are in the lawn at Littlefield Center, and numerous specimens are at the Cantor Center.

Several of the ‘Cathedral’ cultivar were planted along Palo Alto’s California Avenue business district in 2009 and have been performing well.

Quercus virginiana leaves. John Rawlings

Name derivation: Quercus – Latin for oak; virginiana – of Virginia.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Sairus Patel added ‘Cathedral’ locations and additional leaf notes.